• Joy Slaughter

14.1 the Limitations of Sacrifice

Megan stared. The red drops on her skin, her pants, the carpet, blurred and sharpened and blurred again. “How much blood can I lose?”

When Megan accidently cuts herself on the glass from the broken vase, she asks this question. Though Todd listens to her words, she is really asking a different question.


“How much am I supposed to give to a relationship?”

This question doesn’t have an easy, pat answer. Some die for the people they love. Some choose to live difficult lives caring for disabled or ill partners. But is draining away slowly always appropriate? Right? Expected? In a patriarchal society, we can also recognize that women/femmes are socialized to give more. Where is the line? At what point does sacrifice change from heroic to self-sabotage?


Questions and considerations like this keep many people in abusive relationships. Like Megan says, “It would vary. From person to person.” Each of us struggles with how much to give before we call an end to something, whether that’s a relationship or a job or even just a conversation.


When it comes to decision making around difficult to define problems, talking with someone–a friend, elder, religious leader, philosophical counselor, or therapist, for example–can be helpful. Digging into which values you hold dear, and in what level of priority, can help build clarity, and clarity, in turn, can lend strength.


Megan finally understands that she is free of Todd. Her choice has been made.

But the action of leaving is the most dangerous moment of an abusive relationship.